By Jerry Holsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org
NOKESVILLE -- Two of Sherando's boys tennis players just missed a trip to the Group AA state championship on Wednesday, falling in both singles and doubles to a strong Western Albemarle team.
Kaleb Nguyen and Trevor Scott lost a close match in doubles to Western Albemarle's Alex Preve and Teddy Nelson 6-2, 4-6, 6-4. Nguyen, who had defeated Western Albemarle's Cam Scott 5-7, 6-1, 6-1 in the team competition last Saturday, had those roles reversed in the finals of the singles match.
"When I played him in the team competition, I played well in the first set then I just lost my energy," Cam Scott said. "He really outplayed me in the last two sets. It was almost the exact opposite today."
The match began with a strong performance by Nguyen, who bested Cam Scott easily in the first set, 6-1. Then everything changed.
"I think that Cam finally got into the match," Western Albemarle coach John Hobson said. "He can be a slow starter. He wasn't hitting his shots, and Kaleb certainly was. We knew that he had the shots to be competitive, he just had to get right mentally."
With the second set tied 1-1, Cam Scott did just that, rattling off three straight wins to take a 4-1 lead.
"After the first set, I just tried to pick it up," Cam Scott said. "At that point, I was just trying to make the match competitive. Then things started to click and my confidence built as the match progressed."
Cam Scott went on to take Nguyen, 6-2, in the second set, then jumped ahead 4-0 and eventually won the third set and the match, 6-2.
"I just let it slip away," Nguyen said. "I thought that I was playing fine until the third set. He really picked it up, and I just wasn't able to respond."
The frustration of Nguyen, who was undefeated coming into the match, was obvious as the match progressed.
"Kaleb came out really strong in the first set," Sherando coach Steve Jennings said. "After that, he just wasn't playing up to the way he usually plays, and I think that got to him a bit. I really don't think that it was physical fatigue, but mental fatigue."
With the temperature reaching into the 90s in the afternoon, Nguyen had to return to the court with Trevor Scott for the doubles semifinals just 45 minutes after losing to Cam Scott.
If anyone expected the Sherando junior to have his head down or be affected by the heat, they were very much mistaken. Although the Sherando pair eventually fell to Preve and Nelson, it was a tightly fought battle from start to finish between two previously undefeated teams.
The Western Albemarle duo won the first set in a see-saw struggle, 6-2, and began the second set in complete control, jumping ahead 4-1. Then Nguyen and Trevor Scott completely turned the match around.
"I was a little tired going into the doubles match," Nguyen said. "But we started to make some shots, and that really built up our confidence. After that I thought we played really well against them."
What the Sherando pair did in the second set was string together five straight victories to win it, 6-4.
"That was really amazing," Jennings said. "I really didn't think that Kaleb's loss had much of an effect on the doubles match. Once they started playing and hitting their shots, it was a very competitive match."
The final set was a battle that was in doubt until the final point, with momentum shifting constantly. Sherando jumped head 1-0, but Western Albemarle responded with two straight wins to go ahead, 2-1. Although Nguyen and Scott were able to tie things at 2-2, Preve and Nelson won the next two games and went on to win the final set, 6-4, and move on to the finals.
Despite the two losses, Jennings was happy with his team's effort.
"I'm really proud of these guys," Jennings said. "They're just a great group of guys and I am very pleased with what they've been able to accomplish this season."